His love for the guitar began to bloom at the age of 16 when he began to play the music of his homeland~Soukous and Rhumba.
He worked hard at nurturing his talent and soon ran into Crispin Ngoy: a very talented musician who passionately taught Niwel jazz. This became his way of discovering many other types of music.
Niwel moved to Ireland in 2004 where he quickly made friends with the Irish music scene. He began playing with many local bands and formed the groups Sumu, Jazzmu and Motema.
With influences from far and wide, his elegant and fluent guitar playing draws from Niwel’s past excursions with African rhythms, Rumba, Jazz, Classical, Flamenco and much more besides. Playing electric & acoustic guitars & singing mostly in his native ‘Lingala’, Niwel plays a range of music that stretches from contemporary versions of Congolese traditional music from the 1930s & 40s to modern Jazz. Niwel’s love of the Spanish style of guitar playing beautifully exposes Rumba’s Latin roots.
He has played on many stages- from diversity, cultural awareness and charity gigs- to both the Cork and Bray Jazz Festivals, the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire 2005, and the Spiegeltent for the last two years in Cork.
Niwel has supported the likes of Kila, The Wailers, Horace Andy from Massive Attack, and Cameroon virtuoso bass player Richard Bona as part of the Bulmers World Music Festival in Cork.
Over the last 50 years Central Africa has built itself an incredible reputation for giving birth to many of the World’s greatest guitarists, and Congolese Niwel Tsumbu is a fitting ambassador to carry that torch forward into the 21st Century with his new album ‘Song of The Nation’
Antidotes to the recession don’t come much more potent than this. Niwel Tsumbu’s indomitable, infectious spirit invaded the intimate confines of Whelan’s before his first song had evaporated. Tsumbu takes his audience on a journey of discovery that traverses the peaks and troughs of life’s unpredictable terrain with startling precision. He gives full rein to a sweep of syncopated rhythms that have many punters grasping and gasping to keep up.”
-Irish Times, March 2009
Tsumbu’s guitar playing is nothing short of exceptional and the wall of sound that hits you once you press play is infectious. If you’re one of the many unfortunate ones who can’t afford a holiday this year, pick up Song of the Nations and experience the world from the comfort of your armchair”
-Hot Press, April 2009 -Irish Times, March 2009
“There’s something about Tsumbu’s native language, Lingala that has infused the Congolese guitarist and singer with a spellbinding fluency….Tsumbu’s confident juxtaposition of clarinet and guitar, insistent percussion and declamatory vocals trace a path that’s all his own…tribal rhythms and transcendent male harmonies declare Tsumbu’s intention to carve a niche nobody else has even dreamt of.
-Irish Times, April 2009